Education and Job Requirements of Paralegals

Paralegals, also called as legal assistants are individuals who assist attorneys with a variety of tasks. They perform many of the same duties that lawyers do but they are not allowed to give legal advice or represent clients in a court of law. The job outlook for paralegal work is excellent and will continue to grow through the year 2018. There are a few things you’ll need to do before you are able to work as a paralegal unless of course you’re lucky enough to work for somebody who provides on the job training.

Educational Requirements:

Other than a high school diploma, you don’t have to have an advanced degree to perform paralegal work, but it is definitely something you should consider. While some attorneys and law offices may provide on the job training, it’s not something you should expect to find. If you don’t have any paralegal work experience it would be wise to enroll in paralegal studies and work towards an Associate’s Degree. You can find these programs at local colleges, universities and even online. If you’re competing for a job with other people who haven’t taken any paralegal-related courses, you stand a much better chance at snagging that job right from under them.

Once you have obtained a degree, you should consider a voluntary certification from a professional paralegal organization. When you complete and pass the exam after meeting all of the necessary requirements, you will be able to refer to yourself as a Certified Paralegal Assistant, or CPA. Even though certifications aren’t always required to do paralegal work, it can certainly help you stand out from the rest.

Paralegal Job Description:

A paralegal is like a lawyer in many ways but without the ability to give out legal advice. They assist lawyers in preparing for hearings, trials and meetings and may also be responsible for writing up reports to be used during any of those events. Paralegal work will also involve keeping case files and documents organized so that they can be easily accessed by lawyers when needed. Sometimes paralegals will also assist with estate planning, the preparing of taxes, employee contracts and shareholder agreements. Like most other careers, the more paralegal experience you gain the more responsibility you are likely to have. Paralegals may be asked to go through case files to be sure everything is factual and correct. From there they might be asked to write a report that will help the attorney decide how to handle a particular case.

Performing paralegal work can be a very interesting job that never gets dull. You get to go behind the scenes and go through case files and assist lawyers with their everyday tasks. To give you the best chance at applying for and being offered a job quickly, consider getting an Associate’s Degree through some kind of paralegal program. It can also be helpful to become certified as this may open even more job opportunities for you. Employers and lawyers are going to favor those who have the educational experience of paralegals and getting certified could prove to be the icing on the cake. The paralegal job outlook is looking great over the next decade so it’s definitely not too late to get started on your journey to becoming a legal assistant.

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